Edmonton’s mayor hopes marijuana-related businesses set up shop in vacant commercial space

Edmonton's mayor is hoping retailers will take advantage of vacancies in Edmonton once marijuana is legalized in 2018.
Edmonton's mayor is hoping retailers will take advantage of vacancies in Edmonton once marijuana is legalized in 2018. Global News

Edmonton’s mayor is hoping that the expected billions in retail value once marijuana in legalized is going to result in a new revenue stream for the city.

Recreational marijuana use is set to be legalized July 1, and the budding industry’s estimated retail value is between $4.9 billion and $8.7 billion. Don Iveson is hoping the new industry will take up some of the open office and commercial space in the area.

“We’ve got competitive and stable electricity prices,” Iveson said. “I understand Edmonton and Alberta are very good places for the Canadian cannabis industry to grow.”

READ MORE: Alberta’s proposed cannabis legislation includes mix of private and public sales

Aurora Cannabis’ massive grow-operation near the international airport is an added bonus, Iveson said.

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“I’m only aware at a high level that it is something they’ve prioritized,” explained Iveson. “They’ve had a lot of conversations about attracting cannabis businesses to the region because it is going to be a massive industry, we’re told.”

Ian O’Donnell, executive director of the Downtown Business Association, hopes to see office space, retail space and other development happen thanks to the new industry.

“I’m curious to see what ends up coming but we’ve heard some rumours here and there,” O’Donnell said. “Certainly in the creative idea spectrum of what we could use some vacant office space for, some folks said – could we put a vertical grow-op in?

“I’m not sure if that’s realistic or not, I’m not the expert, but certainly we will see office and retail space being taken.”

READ MORE: Legal marijuana could see justice costs climb, not drop, Alberta premier says

According to Iveson, the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation has been doing a lot of work around the opportunities surrounding legal marijuana.

The Alberta Cannabis Stakeholders Group compares the potential money from marijuana to the profits in the private alcohol model Alberta has had since the 1990s.

Statistics Canada numbers show alcohol sales in Alberta were $2.4 billion in 2014.

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READ MORE: Patience a necessity for would-be Alberta cannabis retailers waiting on marijuana legalization

Marijuana will be sold through private retail stores in Alberta, with numbers and locations determined by owner-operators but the Alberta government will be in control of online sales once cannabis is legalized.

In another win for central Alberta, a partnership was announced Wednesday between Hole’s Greenhouses and Gardens Ltd. and Atlas Growers.

“Jim Hole is sharing his 35 years of experience in agriculture and horticulture to create the safest products for medical and recreational cannabis customers,” Atlas Growers said in a release.

READ MORE: Hole’s Greenhouses joins forces with cannabis producer Atlas Growers

Hole will be director of cultivation and expects the first harvest in the second half of 2018, shortly after legalization.

The legislation sets restrictions on where pot can be smoked or vaped and bans cannabis sales at the same location as alcohol, prescriptions and tobacco.

The legal consumption age is set at 18.